The seed opens very slowly, allowing its embryonic root (or radicle root) to emerge. Growing plants from seed is an enjoyable process that can be fun for the entire family. You can choose from a wide range of flowers, herbs, and vegetables of varying difficulties.
If you’re wondering about how to germinate seeds, whether you want to start a flower garden or your own vegetable garden for cooking, it’s easier than you might think. Helping to mimic nature and stimulate natural habitats, planting seeds can be the first step for a beautiful garden.
Good seeds are vital for good germination. Seeds should be less than two years of age and be suitable for the growing environment. From seeding pots to seed tins for storage, your seeds will need a few basic things for a happy growth.
Hint: Stay tuned for our blog on transplanting seedlings!
Which Grow Medium Should You Choose?
You can place seeds in growing media, which allows you to keep seeds warm and in a humid environment until they germinate and are ready to be moved. Coco growing media provides better root health and better nutrient and water absorption, letting you add as much feed as you wish. This is a completely organic media for your plants and without diseases or viruses.
Whether you prefer an open tray or organic seed cubes, the width of the container is important depending on how many seeds you’re planting. A container for your seeds that is approximately three inches deep with drainage holes is a good choice to avoid plants being too soaked.
You need to leave enough space for each seed to germinate, aligning them with the media. Make sure to have at least an inch at the top to allow for the growing media lights. Organic pots, for example, are ideal if your seeds’ roots shouldn’t be disturbed. They’re biodegradable while providing the roots with better access to the oxygen they need.
Soilless growing medium is pre-mixed and a great choice for a wide variety of seeds. Adapt the substrate depending on what you wish to plant. If you’re planting seeds indoors, you don’t need garden soil as they often come with pathogens that your seeds may not have resistance to.
What Affects Seeds’ Germination?
Depending on each plant, there are different factors that will affect how the seeds germinate. In general, however, factors such as moisture, heat, and salinity will affect how healthily seeds grow. When you purchase seeds, they are dormant and waiting for the right conditions and giving them all the help you can puts them on the right path from the start.
- Oxygen. Seeds need oxygen, which they don’t just get from the air. Most seeds that you’ll plant won’t germinate adequately if they’re in drenched soil and can, in fact, start to rot. Both seeds and seedlings need space to breathe, so don’t forget to have appropriate drainage in seed trays.
- Water. Moisture is an important part of seed germination, however, seeds shouldn’t generally be kept wet. Balancing how much water your seeds get will make sure they germinate properly, with ideally chlorine-free water. Be sure to keep an eye on their moisture level – some seeds go into a deeper dormant stage when drying after having been wet, making them harder to germinate.
- Light. A sunny spot in your garden or windowsill is ideal for seeds to grow and break their dormant period. If you don’t have enough sunlight or you want to grow plants outside of their season, propagators with their specialised lights will help you have healthy seedlings.
- Substrate or soil. Choosing a substrate that provides plants with the conditions they need is important. Make sure to choose a substrate that allows for drainage; although it should be compact to keep your seeds evenly moist, if it’s too compact it’ll soak your seeds. In addition, you’ll need to check the pH of your soil to make sure that it’s either acidic enough for your plants or alkaline enough.
- Temperature. Check what temperature your plants will need, as some seeds require heat and others prefer a cooler environment.
Planting the Seeds
Seeds such as beans, sunflowers, peas, or pumpkin can all be soaked safely. Typically, seed with hard coats or wrinkled seeds are good for soaking before planting. Simply place the seeds that need soaking in a clean and disinfected container, before covering them in room temperature water.
An overnight soak is usually recommended, or just enough time for the seeds to swell but not too long so they don’t rot. Don’t soak your seeds for more than 24 hours – between three or 12 should suffice. The hotter the water, the sooner you should remove them from the water. It’s recommended that you plant your seeds straight after a soaking, without watering again until the soil is appropriately dry.
For other seeds, simply fill your container of choice with growing media within approximately half an inch of the top. You can sprinkle water over the growing media to ensure that there’s just enough moisture.
Store Seeds Properly
Storing seeds lets you sow your favourite plants at a later date, which can be a great trick for making sure that you can plant your best harvests at all times. To ensure you store seeds properly so they last longer, you should:
- Ensure the seeds are dry by letting your seeds air-dry for roughly a week. Note that seeds will stick to paper towels when they’re dry, and you can just tear off bits of the paper towel to separate the seeds – they can be planted with the paper towel, as it’s biodegradable. Newspaper is another choice if don’t wish for the seeds to stick to the paper.
- Have your seeds in an airtight container, such as seed tins for storage. These tins are sturdy, come with monthly dividers, seed envelopes, and pencils for better organisation.
- Store your storage tins in both a dry and cool place, such as the fridge. If your seeds are warm or humid, their shelf life will be shortened. Make sure to not place them in the freezer, as it will cause them to gain moisture.
- Organise your seeds by year so you know when they need to be planted before they’re past their best planting age.
Be prepared for some seeds not germinating, even through careful planning and organising, as it can happen with seeds with a low germination rate (such as parsnip).
Your plants’ seeds are the foundation for a healthy and happy plant, which means that every detail needs to be perfect. Our team is always happy to answer any questions you may have about your gardening needs – simply contact us on 0845 602 3774.